Final words of crash copter pilot

A crane (left) next to the damaged crane at The Tower at St George Wharf in Vauxhall, London, where Pete Barnes's helicopter crashed

A crane (left) next to the damaged crane at The Tower at St George Wharf in Vauxhall, London, where Pete Barnes's helicopter crashed

First published in National News © by

The final words of a pilot killed in a helicopter crash in central London have been revealed.

Pete Barnes, 50, died from multiple injuries when the aircraft he was flying clipped a high-rise crane on The Tower at St George Wharf, Vauxhall, south London, last week. Pedestrian Matthew Wood, 39, was also killed as he walked to work.

A report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) revealed the pilot completed a radio conversation with air traffic control seven seconds before the crash. Mr Barnes requested to land at London Heliport in Battersea. He asked: "Is Battersea open, do you know?"

After being told the heliport was open, he replied: "If I could head to Battersea that would be very useful."

Just 15 seconds before hitting the crane, air traffic control told the pilot: "Battersea diversion approved, you're cleared to Battersea."

His final words were: "Thanks a lot."

The report stated: "This exchange ended at 0759.18 when G-CRST (the helicopter) was approximately 150 metres south-west of Vauxhall Bridge. Immediately afterwards the helicopter began to turn right. At 0759.25 it struck a crane on the south side of the river 275 metres from the south-west end of Vauxhall Bridge."

The aircraft was on a commercial flight from Redhill, Surrey, to collect a client from Elstree, Hertfordshire, on January 16 to take him and another passenger to the North of England.

The AAIB report shows the client suggested to the pilot that he should postpone the journey because of poor visibility. Details of text messages sent and received by the pilot have also been revealed. At 6.30am he told the client: "Weather OK up north but freezing fog at Elstree and Luton not clearing between 8-10am I've got same at Redhill keep you posted."

He sent the client another message at 7.29am which stated: "I'm coming anyway will land in a field if I have to." Another pilot, who was aware of the journey planned by Mr Barnes, sent him a message which read: "Give me a call as I have checked weather and freezing fog around at the moment."

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